Newburyport Man Who Drowned In Chatham Harbor Was Founder Of High Tech Company

By: Tim Wood

A 24-foot Carolina Skiff is towed to the Fish Pier by a Chatham harbormaster boat (out of frame) just before 3:30 p.m.

CHATHAM – The 44-year-old Newburyport man who drowned in Chatham Harbor Wednesday was the founder and chief technology officer of a technology company based in Beverly.

Louis Guarracina was a visionary engineer who reinvented the way automation and robotics work in laboratory settings, said HighRes Biosolutions Chief Executive Officer Peter Harris.

"He really had such a giant impact" on the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, he said.  Mr. Guarracina developed the business around the mobility and modularity of robotics and other laboratory devices, building HighRes Biosolutions into a $50 million company with 160 employees worldwide, Harris said. Mr. Guarracina had stepped down as CEO about 18 months ago to focus on his "passion" as chief technology officer, he added.

Mr. Guarracina owned a home on Morris Island and was an avid fisherman.  "He loved fish, he loved to catch them, he loved aquariums," Harris said, noting that conference rooms at the company's Beverly headquarters are all named for species of fish.

Mr. Guarracina was apparently fishing on Wednesday when he drowned near the North Inlet in Chatham Harbor.  He was found by the crew working on the Barnstable County dredge, which is preparing to clear shoaling near the inlet under an emergency permit.  His overturned 24-foot center console Carolina Skiff was recovered nearby. The skiff, partially swamped and with the cover of the outboard motor missing, was towed into the fish pier by the Chatham Harbormaster at about 3:30 p.m.

John Harland, duty officer at First Coast Guard District, said the dredge crew called Station Chatham just before noon.  The station's 42- and 24-foot lifeboats were deployed along with the Chatham Harbormaster's boat.  The body was retrieved by the harbormaster crew and brought to the fish pier.

Harland confirmed there was only one person aboard the boat at the time of the incident. Assistant District Attorney for Media Relations Tara Miltimore said while the matter remains under investigation, there was no indication the cause of death was "anything other than accidental."

State police, Massachusetts Environmental Police and Chatham police were at the fish pier this afternoon, along with members of the harbormaster's department.  The incident is under investigation by the state police.

Harris said Mr. Guarracina was devoted to his wife and two children.

"It's just incredibly sad and tragic," he said. "Our thoughts are all with his family."

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.